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End Wall Street tax rebates to fund the MTA and NYCHA



mta and nycha

Some days it feels like the only thing worse than the gridlock on our streets is the political gridlock on funding the infrastructure upgrades that New York City desperately needs. Up to $60 billion of subway investment is required and fixing our city’s public housing would cost another $32 billion. Without these investments, New Yorkers will continue to spend more time stuck in traffic or standing on the subway every year than they do on vacation. Some of our most vulnerable families will continue shiver through another winter with broken heating and endure another summer scared to drink the water from their taps in case it contains poisonous lead.

No one has proposed a viable way to raise the money to pay for all this. Congestion pricing may have its merits, but it’s only estimated to raise $1 billion a year. Using the revenue from marijuana legalization is another idea, but that would raise even less: just $300 million a year, the governor said last month. And there’s a strong argument that marijuana revenue should be invested directly back into economic development and criminal-justice reforms in the communities that disproportionately bore the brunt of drug law enforcement for so many years.

But there is a way to break this political gridlock without raising subway fares or charging drivers a cent. For more than 100 years New York has had a modest tax on stocks traded, similar to taxes in London, Singapore and other global financial centers. Unfortunately, since 1981, 100% of our stock tax has been rebated straight back to traders.

On average, $11 billion is rebated to stock traders every year. That’s a giveaway that could be used to create an infrastructure trust that would invest immediately in fixing the subway and New York City Housing Authority properties. This would provide 10 times the expected revenue from congestion pricing and 36 times more than marijuana legalization.
Within a few years, our subway system—which underpins New York’s economic success, reduces traffic congestion and lowers carbon emissions—could be repaired and modernized. NYCHA would become a model for public housing, instead of the moral failure it is now. And New York would be a more livable city.

Once they were fixed, the ongoing revenue could be used to improve public transportation in areas like eastern Queens and to better connect Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx, or to help build other infrastructure to reduce the impact of climate change. What’s more, these investments would create thousands of jobs.

It will take courage to take on Wall Street. No doubt we will hear threats that the financial sector will abandon New York. I don’t think that would happen. Critics said the same thing in 1905 when the stock transfer tax was introduced, yet Wall Street stayed and continued to grow. At times Wall Street has powered our city’s economic success, but at other times its reckless behavior has plunged the world into recession. Ending the rebates of stock transfer taxes would result in Wall Street making a vital contribution to fixing New York City.

There’s evidence to back this up. The International Monetary Fund says stock transfer taxes “do not automatically drive out financial activity to an unacceptable extent.” Trading firms are unlikely to move to other global financial centers because those cities have their own taxes: In London, trades are taxed at 0.5% and in Singapore, 0.2%. The European Union is working on a similar tax, bringing together existing taxes across its member states.

The Tax Policy Center estimates that most of the tax burden would fall on the wealthiest individuals, not mom-and-pop investors or ordinary people with 401(k) accounts. For everyday people saving for retirement, a tax like this would be less than most brokerage and management fees. The people paying most of the tax would be those who treat Wall Street like a casino, gambling with Americans’ jobs and livelihoods.

The New York Stock Transfer Tax already exists. There’s a page for it on the state Department of Taxation and Finance website. It sets out the rates—from 1.25 cents a share for low-value stocks to 5 cents for high-value stocks—with a cap of $350 on any given trade.

Making New York a more livable city is not easy, but sometimes the simplest solutions are staring us right in the face. It’s time we started using the tools we already have to make investments that will benefit all New Yorkers.


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MTA News

Three separate homicides across city this weekend under investigation





The weekend was especially busy for homicide detectives across the city as three people were killed since Thursday night in separate murders, police said.

Police were also seeking a possible wounded person from a shooting on a Brooklyn train Saturday night.

The violence began Thursday, Nov. 14 at about 9:05 p.m. when police from the 34th Precinct responded to a 911 call of shots fire in the vicinity of Sherman Avenue and Thayer Street in the Bronx.

Upon arriving at the scene, law enforcement sources said, officers were told about a 20-year-old man who had arrived at New York Presbyterian Hospital, via private means, with gunshot wounds to the legs.

The victim, identified as Luis Dela Cruz, of 36 Arden Avenue, was subsequently pronounced deceased at the hospital. There are no arrests and the investigation remains ongoing.

On Friday, Nov. 15, at about 9:15 p.m., 17-year-old Talasia Cuffie of Vernon Boulevard in Long island City, Queens, was found stabbed in the chest multiple times along 166th Street in South Jamaica. Paramedics rushed her to Jamaica Hospital. where she was pronounced dead.

Sources said Cuffie was stabbed only hours after attending a memorial for her friend, Aamir Griffin, 14, who was shot to death on by a stray bullet 21 days earlier.

Hours later, at about 3:44 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16, police in Brooklyn responded to a 911 call of male shot in front of the Lafayette Garden Houses, a NYCHA development. Officers found a 34-year-old man shot multiple times in the chest. EMS rushed him to Brooklyn Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

The victim has not yet been identified, and no arrests have been made.

Shooting aboard train

Meanwhile, cops are also investigating a reported shooting on board the Franklin Avenue Shuttle in Brooklyn Saturday evening.

Police say a group became embroiled in a dispute either aboard or on the platform of the Franklin Avenue shuttle as it sat in the station at Prospect Park and Flatbush Avenue Saturday night at about 8:40 p.m. Police were checking hospitals in the borough for possible person shot, but could not confirm that anyone was hit.

A transit worker inside a maintenance room at the station said he heard a large group of teens running from the station, but he didn’t hear the shots. Police were holding the motorman after the shooting for questioning.

The suspect was described as male black, 5’9″ with a dark hoodie.

The shuttle was shut down for the duration of the investigation as evidence collection units collected spent shells and a bullet that may have been lodged in a wall of the train.

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By  Todd Maisel

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MTA News

Advocates: MTA Board Must Get Moving On Congestion Pricing Details




MTA news

In less than one year, the state-mandated Traffic Mobility Review Board can issue its nuts-and-bolts recommendations for how congestion pricing is supposed to work, what it will cost, and who will get much-desired exemptions from the toll.

Of course, there’s a few things that need to happen first — primarily Mayor de Blasio and the MTA Board have to actually appoint members to this obscure board, get it an office so it can start the work of setting those tolls and exemptions, and start holding meetings (which are supposed to be public, but might not be!).

On Friday, a coalition of 20 good government and transit advocacy groups including Reinvent Albany, the Permanent Citizens Advisory Council, the Citizens Budget Commission and the Straphangers Campaign fired the first warning shot, with a letter reminding the politicians who passed the tolling scheme earlier this year that the hard work of actually designing and then implementing congestion pricing still needs to be done before it supposed to (magically!) begin in January, 2021.

The Traffic Mobility Review Board is supposed to comprise one chairperson and five members: one appointed by Mayor de Blasio and the rest appointed by the MTA Board/Gov. Cuomo, though two members must be from the Long Island Rail Road and Metro-North service areas.

Asked if the MTA Board had held any discussions about the board and who will be appointed to it, de Blasio’s MTA Board appointee Veronica Vanterpool told Streetsblog it had not. Noting that she felt it could wait until after December’s decision on the 2020 MTA budget, Vanterpool still urged the Board to prioritize the TMRB going forward.

“All eyes are on NYC for this rollout, so we shouldn’t squander time,” Vanterpool said. “January, 2021 is around the corner.”

A spokesperson for Cuomo referred Streetsblog to the MTA, and a spokesperson for de Blasio did not respond to a request for comment on potential board appointees.

Nov. 15 was an auspicious date for the good-governance groups to send the letter, because Nov. 15, 2020 is the date when the TMRB can release its recommendations, per the congestion pricing agreement that the state legislature passed this year (observers have pointed out releasing the recommendations on Nov. 15 allowed legislators to avoid any potential consequences in the 2020 election, which is a week earlier).

If those recommendations are approved by the Triborough Bridges & Tunnel Authority, the MTA can start collecting the congestion toll fee as soon as Jan. 1, 2021, although there’s no requirement that the tolling begin that soon (clearly, there is a huge potential for delay). Although the TMRB has not yet been appointed, the MTA has at least selected a vendor to design and operate the tolling infrastructure once the fee is instituted.

With no TMRB holding meetings, there’s no way to know what congestion pricing will look like or even what the price might be. For now, thanks to state lawmakers carving out exemptions, we know that emergency vehicles, vehicles transporting disabled people and drivers passing through the congestion toll zone on the FDR Drive or West Side Highway will be exempt from the fee. In addition, CBD residents making less than $60,000 per year will get a tax credit equal to what they spend on the tolls each year, and an exception is being worked out for drivers who have to move their cars in and out of the CBD border because of alternate-side parking.

Other than that though, the public is only left to speculate. At Tuesday’s state legislative hearing on the MTA’s historic $51.5-billion 2020-2024 capital plan, MTA Chairman and CEO Pat Foye promised that before the tolls and exemptions are set, there would be pointless kvetching sessions robust public hearings with the TMRB so that MTA Board members could be properly informed.

In September, the Regional Plan Association issued a series of suggestions as to how the congestion toll could be set. The plan that seemed to do the most good, in terms of raising money and reducing congestion during peak hours, was a fee of $9.18 to enter the CBD during the morning rush and the same fee exit it during the evening peak. That charge would raise $1.06 billion and increase traffic speeds in the Manhattan core by 15.6 percent.

The TMRB’s decisions will have enormous consequences for the success of the congestion pricing program, and for the MTA’s historic capital plan. The MTA is banking on raising $1 billion per year with the congestion fee, which they can then turn into $15 billion in bonds for the agency’s capital spending. In addition to setting the tolls and exemptions, the TMRB is also supposed to review the 2020-2024 capital plan at some point, which makes actually appointing its members somewhat urgent since next year is…let’s see here…2020.



By Dave Colon

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MTA News

Contract talks break down between TWU, MTA





NEW YORK (WABC) — Talks between Transport Workers Union Local 100 and the MTA have broken down after both sides have been meeting for the last three days, officials say.

The transit union president claims that the MTA contract demands have “only made the already tense situation worse.”

The union released a statement Thursday evening about MTA Chairman Pat Foye.

“These two days of bargaining have actually set us back,” union president Tony Utano said. “Foye presented us with a new set of demands today that are substantially worse than the insulting package he threw across the table three months ago. Foye not only appears unwilling to negotiate in good faith, he is intentionally spoiling for a confrontation.”

No new talks are scheduled.

The main issues are wages, pension and health benefits, but it all comes amid rising tensions at the MTA and accusations of widespread overtime abuse.

On October 30, members of Transport Workers Union Local 100 rallied outside MTA headquarters, from bus drivers and subway operators to station cleaners and track inspectors. All of them, working without a contract for nearly six months.

MTA officials claimed they have been bargaining in good faith. But unionized workers from the Long Island Rail Road and Metro North are also working without contracts.

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